UPI's Capital Comment for May 24, 2002

By United Press International  |  May 24, 2002 at 12:40 PM
share with facebook
share with twitter

WASHINGTON, May 24 (UPI) -- Capital Comment -- Daily news notes, political rumors, and important events that shape politics and public policy in Washington and the world from United Press International.

The white zone is for the loading and unloading of sidearms only -- The Airline Security Act signed by President Bush in November included specific language directing the U.S. Dept. of Transportation to create a program to train airline pilots who desired to carry firearms while at work. The pilots wanted the right to carry as an added defense against terrorists attempts to seize control in air as they did on Sept. 11.

The administration, through John Magaw, undersecretary of the Treasury for security, has thus far refused to move this initiative forward. The reason, according to those who follow the issue, is what is being called "extraordinary pressure" from the airlines on the administration. They are concerned that the bill was not clear enough where issues of liability are concerned if sidearm had to be used during a flight. But Congress may be about to take the issue out of the administration's hands.

New legislation sponsored by GOP Reps. John Mica of Florida and Don Young of Alaska -- and in the Senate by Zell Miller, D-GA., and Bob Smith, R-N.H. -- containing clear liability protection for pilots and carriers is moving quickly -- although the carriers apparently remain opposed for reasons that may have nothing to do with the actual policy. According to a source familiar with the issue, it may all boil down to the generally acrimonious relationship that exists between airlines and their pilots. "The carriers can't stand it that the public seems to love pilots but hate the airlines for which they fly. It drives them batty."

Dems pushed to fight on security -- The Democratic Leadership Council, an influential and non-leftwing voice inside the overall party hierarchy, is urging legislators to continue to raise questions "about the way the Bush administration has handled the fight against terrorism and homeland security."

In a paper released Thursday, the DLC likens the suggestion that Democrats should ignore security issues and "do nothing but talk about domestic issues like prescription drug benefits or Social Security" to the calls for the Clinton White House to reject its ultimately successful -- from a political perspective -- effort to co-opt traditional Republican issues like welfare reform.

"We think that's a really bad idea," the DLC says, "reminiscent of the Democratic 'politics of evasion' of the 1980s. As a matter of principle, both parties should address the full range of issues facing the country. But it's particularly important for Democrats to credibly address the security concerns that most Americans place at the top of the national agenda," the organization said, adding "It's especially important that Democrats refuse to backslide toward the silly 'issue ownership' mentality that helped keep them in the political wilderness for so many years."

It's my party and I won't go if I want to -- Former U.S. Housing Secretary Andrew Cuomo is coming under a withering attack from fellow Democrats for his decision to walk out of the New York state party nominating convention. Cuomo, whose father Mario served three terms as governor between 1986 and 1994, announced he wants to get on the ballot through the more expensive and time-consuming petition process. "I want to be the candidate who was placed on the ballot by the people, not by the party," Cuomo told supporters after bolting from the convention.

New York politicos say that Cuomo, who has never held elective office, feared he would fail to attain 25 percent of the vote of convention delegates needed to give him an automatic spot on the primary ballot Sept. 10. Cuomo is running for the Democrat nomination against State Comptroller Carl McCall, a former Mario Cuomo protégé, on whom the party convention bestowed its nomination Thursday.

The body, the mind but not the tech -- Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, an independent, is being slammed by the influential Information Technology Association of America over a new Minnesota law giving Internet users greater control over information released about their use of the Internet. A provision of the law prevents Internet service providers from sharing information with third parties such as law enforcement, which ITAA says eases the way for sexual predators and other cyber-criminals to conduct their activities on the Internet.

"Gov. Jesse Ventura has just delivered a body slam to the online community in Minnesota," ITAA President Harris Miller said. "This is an especially badly drafted law, giving pedophiles, hate speech groups, terrorists, hackers and other cyber psychos the opportunity to block release of their information. While I am sure that this is contrary to the intent of its supporters, in effect it is like handing out Kevlar vests to fleeing bank robbers. And like making the bank's customers pay for them. (The new law) is simply at odds with commonsense."

Cover up? -- Retail clothier Abercrombie & Fitch is coming under tremendous pressure from pro-family and child protection organizations, over a controversial line of thong underwear made for children. The underwear for young girls bears suggestive comments on the front panel like "Eye Candy" and "Wink Wink" which critics are calling unconscionable. Reports Thursday that the company had ceased manufacturing the line and would end sales once the current inventory was exhausted could not be confirmed as the retailer -- clearly feeling the heat -- was directing calls to a New York public relations firm where no staffers were available for comment.

The famed retailer has been under fire for some time, in one case for including suggestive photos of teenage-looking models groping each other in a summer catalog that some critics called "soft porn," leading Ill. GOP Lt. Gov. Corrine Woods to call for a boycott of the company as part of her gubernatorial campaign. Earlier this year, the company was hit for vending a line of T-shirts bearing offensive Asian characters wearing so-called "coolie hats" and slogans that were, charitably, in poor taste.

A match made in Crawford -- Reporters covering the president often complain that the only thing to do while covering presidential visits to the ranch in Crawford, Texas, is to visit the Dr Pepper museum in nearby Waco, Texas -- about 40 minutes away. Well, they now have reason to celebrate as retailer 7-Eleven has announced it will, in partnership with the Dr Pepper/Seven Up company, offer a "Dr Pepper Slurpee" for sale at its stores beginning in mid-June. A special exhibit commemorating the marriage will likely soon be put on display at the museum -- given the White House press corps something to do in those hot, hot, hot August afternoons.

Got a Capital Comment? E-mail CapComm@UPI.com.

Related UPI Stories
Trending Stories